Monday, April 25, 2016

Fishing Elisabeth River.

Hi There,

For the first time, I went fishing the Elisabeth River, Thanks to an invitation from Brett.

  • I had never fished the Elisabeth River before.
  • The main target was Barramundi.
  • I got badly sunburnt.
Brett had told me on the phone to meet him at Palmerston boat ramp on the Lizzie River.
Now, after arriving in Darwin a bit over 19 years ago, I still didn't know where was the Palmerston boat ramp or the Lizzie River...
Looking for Palmerston boat Ramp on Google Maps gave me another ramp.
Looking for Lizzie River boat ramp, gave me a boat ramp on Elizabeth River, close enough, that must be the one.

I made my way to the ramp and arrived a bit earlier than planned, but Brett was already on the water, so all was good.
With the tide still a bit high, Brett decided to show me a spot where Queenfish always go feeding on a big tide.
And yes, they were around in big numbers, feeding like hungry chickens.
Brett started to get some fish on the fly rod:

Brett getting a Queenfish on the fly rod.

This was getting real fun, with double hook up happening on a regular basis.
Even if I kept loosing my fish.
I was using a small Rapala Skitter Pop and the surface strikes were very visual and exciting.
I finally got a fish to the boat and released it, and immediately started to cast again.
Got another nice small Queenfish on the same lure:

Queenfish on Rapala Skitter Pop.

This one I keep for a feed.
I then tried to put a chrome slice with a single hook on my line. The idea was to let it sink, and then try to bring it back in an as erratic as possible way, on the baitcaster, to see if bigger fish were swimming deeper down the water column.
I was getting hits on the drop, and finally got a fish to stick to the lure.
It was a small Trevally.
It was great fun and I could have done that for a few hours without getting bored. But the tide had started to slow, and it was time to go and try for some Barramundi.
The plan was to fish some little creeks sight casting to the Barra.

One of the many little creek on Elisabeth River.

The first Barramundi that we saw, was on Brett's side.
He made a perfect cast just a bit in front of it, and swam the lure past its nose.
The Barramundi didn't think twice and boofed the little lure with gusto.
Once it realised it had been tricked, it jumped out of the water and showed us his nice chromy sides, that was a healthy fish!
Now, netting a Barramundi is not exactly rocket science, but for some reason I had to have a few go at it, and it is only on the third try that the fish finally went in the net. Which was about time, as I was starting to stress that it was going to chew on the thin leader used by Brett.

A nice salt water Barramundi.

That was a good fish and it made us very optimist for the rest of the morning.
Well, we did see numerous other ones, to which I flicked lures, but without any good results.
I just was too excited to see the Barramundi swimming in clear shallow waters. I casted too far, or too close, when it was not behind the fish.
I missed my casts, I spooked the fish, and I didn't catch any on them.

With the wind starting to blow, we decided to go in another creek.
At the entrance of which was a crocodile trap.

Crocodile trap in the creek water.

Let's just say that it must have been a very clever croc living in that creek.
And that instead of taking the bait in the trap, he had eaten all the Barramundi of the creek.
At least that will be our excuse for not finding any fish there. 

The creek.

It was a beautiful creek, but we couldn't catch any Barramundi in there.

By now it was the morning's end, and I had told my daughter that I would take her shopping early in the afternoon. It was time to go back.

Thank you Brett for inventing me on your fine boat, I had a great time on the water, and saw new places that I had never fished before.

Yes I know, I have to learn to stop being excited as a kid in a lolly shop, when trying to sight cast at some Barramundi. 

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fishing Two Locations On The Same Day.

Hi there,

Yes we went fishing on two locations on the same day, and this is the short story of it.
  • We fished Corroboree Billabong and the Adelaide River.
  • We got fish on many different lures.
  • It was a long but great day.
On the Saturday afternoon, I got a message from Jason asking me if I wanted to go fishing on Sunday?
It didn't take long for me to realise that really, there was not much else that I wanted to spend my Sunday doing. 
The plan was to fish Corroboree early in the morning, and then zoom to the Adelaide Rived in the afternoon.
So at 5:00am we found ourselves on the way to the Billabong. And yes, it is at least for me the city boy, always a very beautiful thing to see, the Billabong waking up in the morning:

Corroboree Billabong in the morning.

We had expected to see a long queue of boats launching at the ramp...
Nobody was there, we had the place for ourselves.
With no one else there, we decided that we could try first to have a few casts in the lilies just on the right of the ramp.
Well people often say that in fishing you have to do the miles to get the smile, but not this time.
We had just launched, it was not yet 7:00am, and just like that, I was on to a beautiful little fresh water Barramundi:

First Barramundi of the trip. Akame!

No it was not a giant at 65 cm (25.590551 In.), but hey, I was happy as one can be. Just a few minutes on the water, a dozen casts and we had a fish was on board.
Oh how that Barramundi fishing seemed easy just then. Well it was going to be a little while before the next Barra. But other fish were to be caught in the interim.
Yet with no other fish taking our lures, we decided to go for a bit of a troll along the waterways.
And simply enjoy the morning light.

Lilie pads at Corroboree Billabong.

A former colleague from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, had told me that if I could one day bring him back a Saratoga or Scleropages leichardti, as it is  called by the people of knowledge, for the museum collection. Well guess what? We hadn't been trolling for long, and once again I was On! This time to a nice little Saratoga who had taken an unhealthy liking to my Reidy's lure:

Saratoga on the Big Lucifer lure.

My first Saratoga of the day.

Mission accomplished, I had a Saratoga and it was going to go in the museum collection.
As such, we recorded the GPS coordinates of where it had been taken, the time (7:45am), and depth at with the lure was swimming (2,5 metres).
Sometimes simple little things like this makes me happy.

We then started to have a lot of success with the Tarpon, and it wasn't that hard because they were everywhere.

Jason with the first Tarpon of the day.

They were good fun, and some of them were really fat and hit hard, for such little fish.

Pandanus on the bank.

We even tried to fish with some small soft plastic vibes, and I got a nice Saratoga with them, and Jason got one too:

Saratoga on the small vibe.

Between the Tarpon and Saratoga it was great billabong fishing.

Jason working another Tarpon.

Still, I wanted another Barra, and started to think that for it to happen I would have to cast deep in the lilies again, instead than just on the edge of the lilies. Yet, I was not brave enough to flick a vibe with two treble straight in the under water forest made by the water lilies stems.
So I naturally opted for a small soft plastic, the smallest one in my bag, a little Reidy's of just a few centimetres, in the chartreuse colour. I would love to show you this lure, but really there is not much to show...
Judge for yourselves:

Can you see it?

Yes you can't see much, but let me tell you that the fish liked it.
With the temperature of the day rising, the action went down.

Every body needs a place to rest when it's hot.

So we decided that it might be time for a move toward the Adelaide River.
And this is just what we did.

Not long after starting to fish on the Adelaide, Jason got on his first Barra of the day:

Happy as a man who just caught a fish.

Yes, even after having lived outside of the Northern Territory for a few years, Jason was still able to find the Barramundi on one of his favourite rivers.
Not only he was able to find some fish, but he was able to put me on them too.
First I lost one at the boat, which if you ask me was totally unfair.
So we trolled again, when I got a nice little hit, and my line took a tangent for the bank.
Not wanting my fish to go straight for the snags, I thumbed my spool and jerked a bit the rod, and the fish started to swim my way. From the fight I quickly realised that it wasn't too big, but got a bit of a fright when it came boat side, as I had the impression to see a shark or a crocodile swim just under it.
Not knowing for sure what it was, or even if it wasn't just a figment of my imagination. The fish was rapidly lifted in the boat.

My dinner had been sorted.

At 56 cm (22.047244 Inches) it was just over the minimum legal size, and in the esky it went.
I was laughing at how I panicked when I had this small Barramundi on the line, thinking that it was going to be taken from me, by some underwater predator.
When Jason got a solid hit and was now connected to what was obviously a better fish.
As fast as possible I reeled in my lure, and got the net ready when I heard Jason scream: Oh there is a shark!!! Oh no!!!
And that was it:

When a shark gets the better part of your Barramundi.

Before I had even had the time to turn around with the net and to look at this big fish in the water, that shark had done his shark job... It had collected its tax, under the form of fresh food...
This is not the first time that I saw a shark taking part or even a full Barramundi from a hooked line. But this one was the fastest of them all. So fast that in fact, I didn't even see it.
But at least now I know that I had not dreamed when I had my smaller fish on the line, there are sharks in the water...

A bit further up the river, Jason caught another Barramundi:

Last Barramundi of the day.

All the fish we caught on the Adelaide, were very chrome looking. Not as fat as the fish we hooked in Corroboree billabong earlier in the day, but still very healthy.

Sadly it was starting to be late, and it was time to race down the river, toward the ramp and home.
As we started to make our way back, the weather dramatically changed, a storm seemed ready to pounce on us, and the sky kept changing all the way to the ramp, for the rain to start lightly falling only once we were in the car.
Yet the spectacle that the sky gave us, reminded me of one of the many reasons why I love going fishing in the Top End so much.






The multiple colours of the sky.

Yes I know, it is a lot of photographs of the sky, but I had forgotten how it can change so fast.
It was a good reminder of why I prefer going fishing than playing video games.

Thank you Jason for inviting me to fish from your boat.

And yes it is true, the best Barramundi of the trip was sharked...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 1

Hi there,

I know, I have been a bit absent for a while...
Sorry about that, I will now try to get back on the saddle, get ready for the ride.
Not so long ago, was the first round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series, or 2016 TEBS as some call it.
What is the story?
  • The first round was at Shady Camp.
  • Brett predicted that we might get just one fish each.
  • It was really hot weather.
  • The fishing wasn't so hot.
  • We ran into some kind of navigational trouble.

Yes, I am finally Back!

As I said, the first round for 2016 was, as it is traditionally done, at Shady Camp.
We had arrived early and found ourselves in the usual line of boats waiting to launch:


Launch ramp at Shady Camp.

It is said that the government will build a new more practicable boat ramp. But until then that is the way it is.
As we waited to launch, I saw a guy fishing land based, who got three Barramundi in three casts. This I told myself, is a very good sign, we are going to scoop the fish! Well sometime in fishing, like in life, things are not what it seems. The fishing was going to be more difficult than this. 
Brett did tell me a few times that I should go and flick a lure next to this guy who was doing so well. Stupidly, I thought that if he was getting such results from the bank, we were going to make a killing from the boat...
I should have done what Brett was saying.

First we went to one's of Brett's spot, and as we arrived he said: there is often some big mama Barra just right there on this corner.
And just as he had said, the sounder showed us a very big and fat Barramundi just where Brett had predicted that we might see some. Things were starting to look real good.
But not only we didn't tempt this big fish with our lures, but the sounder died nearly then and there...
And it was just early morning of the first of two days for the round.
Not getting any luck at the first stop, we decided to move on to the next one.

The water was dark and the weather uncertain.
We found a few comrades fishing the mouth of the little creek when we arrived, and they didn't had much success either.

Glenn and son fishing at the creek mouth.

Being on a smaller boat, we went straight up the creek, where the other boats couldn't go.
Alas, the fish weren't there either.
So we decided to go down the main river, troll the centre, and stop to flick lures at spots that would look fishy. While waiting for the tide to change.

Soon, we found a boat that looked like they were in trouble, the outboard cover was off, and the two lads were sitting with crossed arms... Never a good sign on a fishing boat.
After a short chit chat and a look at their outboard, Brett said that the best would be to tow them back to the ramp. And towing we did.
We must have been the smallest boat on the river that day, and as such we towed them at a rather slow pace.

Towing the broken down boat.

The guys in the towed boat started to troll lures at the back, and quickly one of them was on!
They signalled to us and we stopped so they could catch the little Barramundi that had taken the lure.

They got a fish while being towed.

As we restarted towing them, the slow speed, gave us ample time to admire the landscape and wildlife:

Salt water crocodile on the bank.

Salt water crocodiles or Crocodiles porosus as it is formally known, is represented in big number at Shady Camp. It has even be said that this is the place in the world with the biggest concentration of them per square meter. I do not know if this is true, but it is certain, that we see a lot of them, and big ones every times that we fish over there.
All together, it took us about two hours flat to get the broken down boat to the ramp.
The tide being by then pretty low, we fished the barrage for a while, without any luck at all.
So from there we moved to another barrage:

One of many barrage at Shady Camp.

Two guy who were fishing from the shore, got a nice fish just as we arrived. Tarpon were everywhere, surly this was going to be our lucky spot.
It was not to be, we didn't got anything from there. 

Moving along to a better spot was decided, but ...
Something was to happen...
As we moved up a little creek, the boat hit a submerged rock, and the outboard did too.
Prop and shaft were bent, that was bad.

With the outboard in this condition, Brett wisely decided that it would be safer to move back to the ramp, and see if we could catch a fish there.

And it worked, for Brett, he got his first Barramundi of the weekend there, and it was a point scorer! Maybe chance was finally going to smile at us?
Well, never ask for too much, or you might face deception.
Not only we didn't got any more fish there, except a few undersized ones for Brett, but I got nearly sun stroke.
When we finally put the boat back on the trailer, and started to drive back toward the motel, I started to feel like if I was going to pass out in the car. Too much sun, not enough drinking.
Luckily, the air con in the car was working well and I stayed awake.
Once at the motel, a nice cold shower, a soft drink at the bar, and a big steak, with pepper sauce and French fries, and I felt like brand new!
Still once in bed, I had no problem to fell asleep in about two point five seconds, and snore until the next morning.

At day break we were on the water edge again, but had decided to launch on the fresh water side of the barrage, as it would be safer with the state of the outboard.
At first we went to the barrage and jumped out of the boat to try to get a fish from there.

Brett fishing Shady Camp Barrage in the morning.

Lady luck must have still been in bed at that time, as we didn't get a single fish from there.
Brett said that he knew of another small barrage were we might find some fish, if water was flowing over it.
As we arrived to the said little barrage, water was flowing above it, and we started to get optimist.
But as we were about to land, I spotted a big water buffalo on the edge of it, not very far from us.
When I pointed to it, Brett, safely moved back the boat and said that we would go and try to fish from the other side.
Arriving on the other side, I saw a rather large crocodile, sliding in the water as he saw us.
Brett said that it was ok and that we should fish from there and might be able to catch a fish or two.
I couldn't help asking myself if fishing from a barrage that has a water buffalo on one side, and a crocodile on the other one was the best plan in the world? 
Yet I jumped out of the boat and by the time I walked to where we would be fishing from, Brett already had a small Barramundi at the end of his line. It was too small to be a point scorer, but at this point, this was all the encouragement we needed, and we started to get excited.
Brett missed a better fish just at our fish, and as my lure arrived in the same spot, the fish took it in earnest.
I was one, finally!
It was a very short fight, with a fish that was just a small point scorer.
But that was it, I was not on a donut anymore.
So we tried for a bit more on the same spot, but with no more luck.

Near the little barrage, in the fresh side.

Not long after, we decided to call it a day, and to go back home.
It was just 8:30am but the fishing had been very hard, and the broken outboard, was weighting on our minds.

So off we went back toward the ramp, and home.
Both at the ramp and on the road, we saw a lot of boat going back, the fishing had been hard for most.

Boats on the road back towards Darwin.

Yes, it had been a hard weekend, with not many fish. Brett's prediction that we might get just one point scorer each was right.
The outboard problems were a real concern, and the heat had been harsh.
Yet, we did have some good laugh, and some time out-there.
Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat, I still had a good time, and hope that we don't run into so many trouble next time.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Friday, November 6, 2015

2015 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi there,

Not long ago the fifth round of the 2015 Top End Barra Series took place, and here is the story of how it went.
  • It took place at Corroboree Billabong.
  • I fished from Moz's boat.
  • It wasn't easy fishing.
  • All our fish were caught on hard body lures.
Early in the morning I arrived at Moz's, the boat was ready, so we quickly put my stuff in the boat and in the car, and we hit the road.
Destination fishing.

Arriving at Corroboree in the morning is alway a real visual pleasure:

Last stretch of Road before Corroboree Billabong.

Once again we were not disappointed, the scenery was breathtaking.
We launched as quick as we could, and soon found Greg fishing in the morning light.

Greg fishing Corroboree in the morning light.

We had a little chat with him, and a few cast, were both Moz and I got a hit. But this was Greg's spot so we left it to him, and went to a spot that Moz and I fished together four years ago.
As we arrived, we saw a few wallabies just where we wanted to go:

Wallabies on the bank.

Seeing use they hopped away in the bush, and Moz promptly took their place on the bank, while I fished from the boat.
In no time Moz was on, and he landed the first Barramundi of the weekend:

Happy as a man who caught a fish.

It wasn't yet 8:00am and Moz had already caught a 60cm Barramundi. (23.622047 Inches).
By then we become persuaded that this was going to be a cracker of a day, full of nice big fish...
It was going to be a great day, but not for all the fish caught.
As a matter of fact, it was going to be a very long time before we caught another Barramundi.
First we had lunch. Then we caught up with a few other boats, on the bank of the billabong, for a yarn and a few jokes.
Brett who was there, passed a few skewers around, that he had just cooked on his boat, Yummy!

Skewers on the boat.

These were followed by some warm garlic bread, this was luxury fishing for me.
Someone threw a few pieces of bread in the water to see if some little fish would come and eat it.
A kite came and took it:

Greedy kite pinching the fish's bread.

Despite all the fun that we had, it was time to try to get more fish.
So everyone went there own way.

Brett on his way to try to find the Barramundi.

We had opted to troll along the lilies, and I was casting weedless lure at the same time. From the front of the boat, while my trolling rod was at the back. Between two cast I looked at my rod, and saw it suddenly take a sever bent.
I dropped my casting rod on the boat floor, and hurried to catch the other one.
Yes the fish was still on, and was giving an honourable fight.
We identified it as a Barramundi, and it was netted as fast as we could:

A fat Barramundi.

Coming in at 74cm (29.133858 Inches) it was a reasonable size Barramundi, but was surprised me the most, was how fat this fish was. And it did fight like a big guy too.
Like the Barramundi caught by Moz before, it was released to grow a bit more.

One of the thing that anglers and visitors should never forget about Corroboree Billabong, is that it is the home of many, many big crocodiles:

Salt Water crocodile at Corroboree Billabong.

we did see many of them, and they kind of keep you on your toes.
By the end of the afternoon, geese were starting to get back in action:

Flock of geese in flight.

Geese coming to the water in the afternoon.

With the sun going down, Moz cooked a great curry, and it was time to search for a spot to sleep.

Sunset on Corroboree Billabong.

Doing so, we trolled some big lures...
And I got a massive hit, and the line started to peel out of my singing reel.
I was on to a very good fish.
It didn't come to the surface, was fighting deep down in the water column, we were in 20 feet of water.
I started to call it for a massive catfish, and finally it came to the surface just at the side of the boat.
And we saw it...
And Moz shouted: "It is a Metery! A big Metery!"
Yes, an absolutely massive fish it was. But catfish it wasn't, Barramundi it was...
It was too fast for Moz to have any chance to net it.
The big Barramundi sounded straight for the bottom. Moz said: "When they sound like that, it is not a good sign". I said: "Shut Up don't say that now!"
But he was right, first I felt one of the treble pop out, but I was still connected. Then the second one let go and the line went limp.
I had lost, the fish had won.
On closer inspection once I had my lure back in hand, I could see that in fact both trebles had bent.
I still remember it...
Not long after that we found a good spot to anchor the boat and spend the night sleeping.

Early morning saw us trying to snag a fish, mostly by casting weedless in the lilies.
Where I got a small Saratoga, not big, but enough to makes me happy, it was the first in a few year:

Small Saratoga in the morning.

This was a small fish but it was the only one that came aboard during this trip.
We did get hit by a few of them, some much bigger than this one (Because the one that got away is always bigger). But we could not land another one as they are notoriously difficult to hook properly.

But I did get a rather lager yet very skinny Archer Fish:

ArcherFish on the weedless frog.

And this was going to be the last fish from the Sunday.
We did persist the casting, flicking our lures against every structures that we could find.
Sadly to no avail.

We decided to go home in the early afternoon, as we still had a bit of road to do, and the fishing was not getting better.
Yet I still had a great weekend, it was good to be out in the sun breathing some fresh air.
Thank you Moz for inviting me on your boat for the weekend.

And I will remember for a long time that big Barramundi that I lost a Saturday evening in the dark waters of Corroboree Billabong.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.